John Hopkins, who has died aged 83, was an American novelist and diarist, best known for The Tangier Diaries, a literary history of Tangier from to John Livingston Hopkins was born on August 5 in Morristown, New Jersey; his well-heeled parents brought up John, his sister and two half-siblings, in Far Hills, an affluent enclave known for its discreet mansions and fox-hunting enthusiasts.
Hopkins was educated privately at the Peck School and was a boarder at Hotchkiss. Graduating inand following a summer course in Spain, he and a Princeton friend, Joe McPhillips, went to South America with the idea of buying or starting up a coffee plantation in the Peruvian jungle.
In Lima, Hopkins began keeping a diary. They crossed the Andes by jungle bus and visited coffee plantations, and slid down the Amazon on a balsa raft, adventures recounted by Hopkins in his first novel, The Attempt ; but they decided that growing coffee was not a viable business, and two months later they boarded an Italian liner bound for Naples.
It was a disaster: their host locked himself in the laundry with cases of beer and never appeared, saying he feared an impending attack by the Mau Mau, which turned out to be a migration of ferocious baboons who killed 40 dogs on the ranch; and both caught pneumonia.
Hopkins later wrote about this in The White Nile Diaries They flew to France, which they found cold and expensive. Hopkins taught at a school near Verdun, and McPhillips in Paris.
However, they met a Yale graduate brought up in Tangier, who suggested they try Morocco, and got them jobs at the American School in Tangier, where they planned to stay for a year. Hopkins stayed for nearly 20 years, McPhillips for the rest of his life. Hopkins lived for several years without telephone or electricity in a mud hut called Le Petit Mansion in the Marrakesh oasis with a Dutch baroness who travelled with seven suitcases and a parrot.
This entailed the excursions over the Atlas Mountains and into the Sahara desert detailed in his novel Land without Echoes, the last of his 10 published books. In they moved to Chelsea in London, and in into an Oxfordshire National Trust property reserved for an American writer or artist.
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John Hopkins, born August 5died March 25 Related Topics. Comment speech bubble.
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